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My First Boating Holiday

“Golden Star” 1972

By Terry Clarke

 It is probably worth me spending a few lines explaining how I became hooked on The Broads.

As a family we comprised of my father who was virtually blind through severe cataracts in both eyes, my Mum, older brother and me. We were a working class family. Because of my father’s disability jobs were low paid. Accordingly we rarely had a holiday’s but occasionally my grand parents would hire a caravan on the Vauxhall Caravan Park in Great Yarmouth for a week and we all went. Crammed in my granddad’s ageing car, luggage piled high on the roof rack, it was brilliant.  As money was tight, as kids we rarely went on the amusements in Bottons but spend many an evening watching others come down the helter skelter into the big bowl at the bottom. The one thing we always did however was to go on a ‘road and river’, trip booked through Seagull Coaches at one of the little booths which used to be by one of the piers on Great Yarmouth sea front.

We would board the coach on the sea front and after a fight for the front seat we would journey to Wroxham where we all board the Princess Alexandra (I think it was called) for a 2 or 3 hour trip down river to Horning and back. I just loved this, sat at the window seat looking at all the boats, the bungalows and the wild life. I don’t know what it was and still don’t but it seemed like a whole different world and I loved it.  If Granddad could be persuaded to drive, we would also all go to Reedham where we would park on the river front, take a walk to Pettits when it was all feather made butterflies and then back to sit in the car and have an ice cream.  I loved the river more that than Pettits and seeing the Bridge swing open and a large coaster go by if you were really lucky, was something else.

Many years passed and every year I would say why can’t we have a holiday on a boat on The Broads.  I would spend hours going through the Blakes and Hoseasons brochures reading the boat details and then having almost total recall on which boatyard a particular boat came from. These pleas were always met by we can’t afford one of those and how will Dad manage.

In 1972 as a young 16 year old lad I started work for Nat West Bank and started earning the princely sum of £584 per annum. Most of this went on bus fares to work each day and contributions to the household budget.  My older brother was contributing to the household income too and things were not so hard financially. When it came to holiday decision can we go on a boat, I finally got a yes. Happy, I was like a dog with 4 sphericals.  My brother had already committed to going on holiday with his girlfriend and her family, so we chose the same week to take our holiday. This meant a crew of 3. Golden Star (Y931) from Pearson’s of Reedham was chosen for a variety of reasons:


With no car and no Grandad, we booked a taxi to take from Kent to Reedham. There was a company that did regular car hire journey’s back then between Kent and East Anglia.  Endless lists were made about what we needed to take, hammer for banging in the rhond anchors, large screw driver and pliers to undo any knots which pulled to tight. Mum packed something for every conceivable eventuality (or so we thought).  We arrived at Reedham in this big estate car and unloaded all our luggage in the boatyard. Golden Star was not ready to receive its new crew, so we had to sit and wait. Sit I could not, to eager to get aboard. The lady at the boatyard brought Mum and Dad a pot of tea out to the bench on the grass over looking the river.

Eventually Golden Star was ready and we carefully managed to get Dad on board. The yard owner I think it was, showed us all the things you had to do each day on the boat, clean weed filters, screw down the greasing knob on the shaft through a small panel removed from the floor, how to flush the loo, how to start and stop the engine etc. I was starting to realise the responsibility I was carrying now to look after the boat, navigation, steering and mooring. The owner cast off from the bank and took us a little way down the river and then made me turn her around and take him back to the bank.

What are the main memories for that first fantastic week afloat on The Broads all those 34 years ago:




















Saddest thought was always just how much of the beautiful scenery my Dad was missing with his failing eye sight. We all fell in love with The Broads on this first holiday on the boat, since then we have followed with:  

Silver Arrow (H260) in 1975 from Silverline Marine at Brundall.

Carribbean (E56) from Wilds at Horning

Tropicana 3 (F920) from Mixer Marine at Stalham

Diamond Emblem from Ernest Collins at Wroxham

Caribou from Ryder Marine at Womack where I fell in love with Womack and it remains my favourite place in the world.

Glittering Light 8 (G819) from Herbert Woods at Potter

Golden Girl (M606) from Summercraft at Wroxham

Moon Stream (J609) from Belaugh Boats at Belaugh

Moorhen (T459) from Moores at Wroxham.


We still talk about that first holiday today, the boats we have been on, the holidays we have had.

Terry Clarke 2006

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